THE DRIVE AGAINST BRUCELLOSIS MUST BE KEPT UP - MINISTER
Everyone involved in the agriculture industry must continually bear down on brucellosis, the Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA said today.
The Minister said the disease was a major blot on the farming industry and must be eradicated.
The Minister said: "Much work has been done over the years and a lot of money spent on the problem but it still exists. In the South they have made considerably better progress and we must learn from this.
"In recent times we have been reviewing our approach to preventing and controlling brucellosis. We have put a lot of emphasis on the need to build a partnership between the Department and farmers to tackle this disease. We have established three local groups of people with an interest in brucellosis eradication to help improve delivery of the brucellosis programme and provide feedback on the disease from the farmers' perspective. Currently the areas covered are Enniskillen, Newry and Armagh because these are the highest disease incidence areas.
"It is important that we keep up awareness of the disease, how it can be prevented or controlled and what must be done when there is an outbreak.
"Farmers have generally been very supportive of the advice and instructions issued by DARD but there are times when the guard is dropped and this must be avoided. We will be taking further measures to reinforce awareness and tackle the disease on all fronts.
"It is vital for the livestock industry that progress is made toward eradication and we must all work together to that end. I am confident that the groups will play an important role here and I will be looking closely at what other practical measures we can bring forward."
The Minister emphasised that the eradication of brucellosis is vital for the good of animals and the beef trade in general and also for the health of farmers and those who work closely with animals. The millions of pounds currently devoted to countering the disease represent money that could be well spent on other areas where budgets are tight.